Relatives of the political prisoners who remain in the maximum security cells of the Jorge Navarro Penitentiary System, known as La Modelo, denounced that their relatives are under inhumane conditions and are sick, while the prison authorities do not give them medical attention or do not allow full entry of medicines.
The family of political prisoner Néstor Montealto said they are “very worried”, because their relative is “sick with apparent symptoms of appendicitis and unable to receive medical attention”.
“In more than three months of having been in the maximum security cells, his health has deteriorated. He cannot stand to lay on his stomach, he cannot laugh, he cannot do anything, he even cries because of the pain that starts from his testicles and goes up to his navel”, denounced a relative, who asked for his identity to be protected to avoid reprisals.
The relatives confirmed that the prison authorities do not allow the political prisoners in maximum security to receive medical attention, nor are they allowed to receive medicines that are prescribed by specialists that are consulted by their family members, who describe the symptoms of their relatives to the doctors.
“When the person who visits him brings medicines, she has to leave with practically all of them. We know that she (the relative) does not like to denounce because she does not want to lose the visits, but we know that it is not normal for her to come back with everything. They do not let her pass the medicine, and when she takes generic ones, for pain, the officials only let her pass around five”, a family member said.
Montealto was detained on November 20, 2019. On July 20, he completed 20 months of being “unjustly” imprisoned, his relatives stressed. They insist that their relative is “innocent” and “did not commit” the offenses of organized crime and illegal carrying of psychotropic and hallucinogenic substances, for which the Ortega justice system sentenced him to 26 years in prison.
“He is actually in prison for supporting anti-government demonstrations. He lived in the 8 de Marzo neighborhood, located near the Polytechnic University (Upoli), and that is how he began to support the young people who occupied the university. He joined the protests and that was his crime, to seek and demand a free, democratic Nicaragua, where young people are not killed for protesting”, the relative emphasized.
Ernesto Ramírez is still being “punished”
Political prisoner Ernesto Ramírez, imprisoned since May 2019, has been in the maximum security cells of La Modelo for more than six months, in conditions that his relatives describe as “inhumane”.
Ramirez was transferred to the punishment cells on December 31, 2020, after he participated in a hunger strike promoted from within the prison by a group of political prisoners who sewed their mouths shut, demanding their immediate release.
“We as a family believed that they would only keep him there for a while, but apparently they will keep him there until they decide to release him”, lamented the relatives of the political prisoner. Ramírez was accused of trafficking in high caliber weapons and narcotics; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. According to his relatives, in the months that he has been in maximum security cells, their relative's health has deteriorated “faster”. He suffers from kidney and stomach problems due to the “unsanitary conditions in which he eats and the contamination of the water he ingests”.
“He is alone. He is being kept in a space in which he can only stand or lie down. He has no light, there is little ventilation, they watch him from a camera, it has been two months since he has been allowed to the ‘sun yard’, he is being held incommunicado and is sick, and they do not give him any kind of medical attention”, described a family member who requested anonymity.
The family member explained that the case of Ramirez, in the punishment cell, is “more complex” and “distressing” because when “they are translated to those cells they are beaten and are kept under psychological torture”.
They stressed that when an inmate is confined to a maximum security cell, it is “more expensive” for the family, since they have to bring weekly provisions and it must be food that has been previously cooked, because the prisoners “do not have permission or the facilities to cook”.
Jaime Navarrete also suffers isolation
Margine Blandón, mother of political prisoner Jaime Navarrete, recently denounced on social media that as of July 24, her son has spent three years “unjustly kidnapped by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo”.
She pointed out that Navarrete's conditions “are precarious and inhumane” since “he is constantly subjected to psychological torture, ranging from isolation, without the right to daylight hours, to the dispossession of the books that his family has brought him to endure confinement” in the punishment cells.
“As a form of punishment, they took his bible from him,” said Blandón in her publication. Navarrete has been arrested twice; first in June 2018 and most recently on July 24, 2019.
She explained that Navarrete has a broken nasal septum and must breathe through his mouth. “They keep him in isolation, they do not give him medical attention, the food he receives is incomplete and not in good condition, they keep him in a place with no light, and they only give him what they want from the parcel (that is delivered by the family)”.
The Ortega regime has more than 140 political prisoners in jail, who have protested and denounced the human rights violations committed in the country.
Request for a meeting with President Joe Biden
Through an opinion article published in the newspaper El Nuevo Herald, Marco Rubio, the senator of Florida, asked Joe Biden, the president of the United States, to meet personally with the relatives of the political prisoners in Nicaragua.
“They are eager to tell their stories and talk about the injustices of the Ortega regime. We must ensure that America continues to listen to their cry for freedom. The future of democracy in our hemisphere is at stake,” he highlighted in his article.
In addition, he urged the US Administration to strengthen sanctions against officials of the Daniel Ortega regime, pointing out that in order to maintain control, Orteguismo “has gone from fermenting chaos in the streets and violence against protesters, to simply imprisoning their opponents.”
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff